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‘Don’t ignore it,’ Islanders urged over hornet sightings

News | Published:

INVASIVE bugs that pose the greatest threat to insects crucial to the human food chain could be lurking in dingy corners of sheds and garages – and Islanders are being asked to help root them out.

An Asian hornet (24650156)

Jersey’s Natural Environment Department and beekeepers are beginning the fourth year of a battle to contain the spread of the Asian hornet, which can kill up to 50 honey bees and other pollinating insects in one day.

As the queens emerge from winter hibernation to begin the annual reproduction cycle, Asian hornet co-ordinator Alastair Christie is heading a public information campaign so keen-eyed Islanders can report hornet activity and nests.

‘At this time of year queen Asian hornets are quietly building their spring or primary nests so I am asking Islanders to check their sheds, garages, car ports, lean-tos and other sheltered places for tennis-ball-sized, creamy coloured nests,’ he said.

‘Every single nest that we can take out now, with only the queen inside it, will save us having to deal with a much larger nest with 5,000 hornets in it and 50 feet up a tree in September.’

Since it arrived from the Far East in the French port of Marseilles in 2004, the Asian hornet has spread through France and into Spain, Italy and Germany. A single insect was sighted in Jersey in August 2016 and by last year the local population had exploded from 11 nests in 2017 to more than 50 colonies.

Mr Christie said that so far this year there had been 51 confirmed sightings of flying queens. Eleven active primary nests, with queens inside, had been located and destroyed. Two of the sightings were offshore on the Ecréhous and the Minquiers.

‘The public are helping us enormously in this fight, and I urge them to continue to do so,’ he said.

‘We do not want this insect becoming established in Jersey, as the damage that they will do to our ecology could be significant.

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‘If we work together we have a chance of controlling Asian hornets in Jersey and keeping them to manageable numbers.’

The poster campaign – Don’t ignore it, report it – is being launched during the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat Annual Invasive Species Week from 13 May.

Asian hornet sightings can be reported to a dedicated Asian hornet watch app, by email to asianhornet@gov.je, ideally attaching a photo of what you have seen, or by calling Mr Christie on 441633.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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